Bill’s not Bob

2019 Federal Election in Australia

There was an expectation that Labor would win the 2019 federal election. Bob Hawke died on the eve of the poll and the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said ‘let’s do it for Bob’. Labor’s failure to do so forced Shorten to resign on election night and made Morrison (Liberal) look like a winner. Yet, in a very close count (only 120,000 votes the difference), little has changed in the numbers of seats held by the major parties.

Also Major parties had their lowest ever primary vote. To win Labor needed to get the Liberals primary vote below 40% and increase their own.

Coalition Parties (Liberals/LNP/Nationals) 41%
Labor 34%.

Labor did poorly in Queensland getting only 27% of the primary vote.

Climate Change
The ALP failed to do well in seats where climate change was a big issue. On the current numbers, Labor may have won 71 seats if it had made a stark choice against Adani and pushed for zero carbon emissions by 2030. This does not allow for the backlash in some seats were Labor to do this.

On the back of Labor’s failure on climate, the Greens did well in inner city seats in Brisbane and Melbourne, but not enough to pick up more than the one now comfortably held by Adam Bandt in inner city Melbourne .

Climate change independents won several seats.

In Brisbane the Greens’ Max Chandler-Mather (24%) and Andrew Bartlett (22%) both did well ; Max did particularly well in West End, Hill End, Greenslopes, Dutton Park and South Brisbane outpolling the major parties in most of those booths.

The Get Up campaign to defeat Peter Dutton in Dickson failed, Get Up is weak on the ground, particularly here in Brisbane. Tony Abbott lost the seat of Manly-Warringah that he held for 25 years rolled by an independent who was a former Liberal. Get Up claims that as a victory for their campaign but Abbott was already dead in the water after making outrageous claims about the environment and refugees. They’ll probably pack him off to the Ramsey Centre where the former Rhodes Scholar can spruce his familiar brand of neo-colonial nonsense.

The union’s Change the Rules campaign in 2019 was not nearly as effective a the Your Rights at Work campaign in 2007. Change the Rules did not translate into seats for either Labor or Greens. It was a slogan without meaning or depth. This was evident on May Day in Brisbane when all the union officials did was tell workers to vote out the Liberals (something that union audience were already intending to do).

The Greens (10.07%) and Climate Change candidates did well, the latter picking up seats as independents.

Little has changed from the last parliament with the most likely result in the lower house being:

Party 2016 2019
Liberal/ National 76 74
Labor 69 66
Greens 1 1
Independents 4 5

At the time of writing there are 5 seats still in doubt.

The unions are dominated by Labor’s need to have a pluralist appeal to a broad electorate and, as a result, have been weakened by parliamentary politics in general and this election in particular.

Unions need to focus on workers rights. Climate change is definitely union business.

Under a Morrison government inequality will grow. Under the current system a family can have $3.2M (split into $1.6M for each partner) in assets and still not pay any tax. They simply need to keep their ‘income for tax purposes’ below $20,000 and claim franking credits from their shares. The Morrison government intends to defend the rich and cut back on public expenditure.

Ian Curr
18 May 2019

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